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Indoor Shoot Results

Lesson 34 from: Environmental Portrait Photography

Dan Brouillette

Indoor Shoot Results

Lesson 34 from: Environmental Portrait Photography

Dan Brouillette

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Lesson Info

34. Indoor Shoot Results

Review the results from the indoor shoot in this lesson. Dan explains everything that went into the shot and why he made some of the decisions that he did.


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


Introduction to The Environmental Portrait


Environmental Portrait Purpose


Personal Work


Find Your Process




Purpose For Action Editorial


Prepare for Shoot


Lesson Info

Indoor Shoot Results

As we were shooting through those videos, you saw some of the raw images pop up. I don't do a whole lot of retouching or things like that but I do general color grading, I do get rid of some of the distracting things, some highlight and shadow controls so I'll explain that as we go. I want to start off with one of my favorite shots from the shoot. It ended up being one of the overhead shots. So you can see here the lighting was achieved with that really bright type of feel. That's what I wanted with the pops of color that were going on there. You can see this is the shot where it's a horizontal shot obviously, where I was standing on the step ladder. We have enough window light coming in that it looks fairly natural, that was kind of done with balancing. However, if I were to shoot without the strobes she would basically be in the dark with this current setup. So the magnum reflector is just off to the left, just out of frame. It wasn't cropped at all, that was part of the framing proc...

ess of seeing how far in to put the light, what to move and all of that. Again I mentioned earlier that the sweet spot, kind of the great shot all came together when she started using the torch because it got her head up a little higher. And you can see I'm shooting. She had a little bit of her hairstyle is a little funky in that it kept falling in front of her face, that was not ideal, but again if you work it right and you kind of place with all the things you can and you get her moving in the way that you know the light will be great. I knew as soon as she did this it's like okay, just keep doing that over and over. Whatever keeps your head angle at this position, whatever keeps your arms up so that way she was standing more upright and the light was getting more into her face. That really helped me and then moving my angle to try and get the frame of this image not going down directly into her head but kind of putting her into a nice, she's in the right third of the image, pretty well centered as well as vertically. But keeping, originally when I got there the only two things that were on this table were the panel on the bottom and the panel that she's now working on. And this was all empty so we needed to prop that. What we decided was we had all these cool tones, blue, the blue she's working on, the blue tape, but we had this bit of warmth, so that's why we took this one to kind of play off that warmth, so we had these two pops of warm colors mixed in with all this blue to really frame her in nicely. None of this was in here, we propped all that out. I said what other tools would you be using to work on these pieces of art, and she said well obviously the torches. Different brushes, and we just kind of added those things to give us that depth and get rid of any area that was a little boring. And we didn't want it to be too much and too distracting, and these torches kind of play off well with these and the one she's holding. I'd mentioned either being totally squared to the subject or shooting at almost 90 degrees to a wall. This is where I embraced that perspective of getting the corner, so our left third of the image is just the window light and a little bit of the paints and the hot pots and all that type of stuff. And that's the balance with her on the right third and then again letting her go through the actions. So I probably shot 60 frames of her doing this exact same thing. You'll see later when we go back through the images how there's a whole bunch that are like eh, that's okay, that's okay, and then all of a sudden pop, there's one like this where everything came together from the light, to the action, to the composition. That's why I love using the 24 to 70s because I can zoom in and out, especially when I'm standing on a stepladder, it's kind of a pain if you're using a prime to have to, oh hold on let me move the ladder closer or let me back it up. So using that lens, there are advantages to using primes, but at the same time using the zoom lens for me, I'm not super technical when it comes to some of the depth of field and some of those things. I'd rather have the content and the overall frame say what I want it to say. So that's why I loved the 24 to 70, but everybody has their favorite lenses. So with this said, shooting that overhead graphic composition, it really let the art show because when you're also down flat to it you can't really see that color because of the wax coating. It basically just looked like this hazy gloss over the top of all the artwork. So being able to elevate up and show that downward composition, you can see all the paints in the hot pots in those little foil dishes that she's working with. And everything came together here. As far as backend work we are gonna re-edit this image later. All I really did was add little bit of contrast, I had to tone down the highlights a little bit because this first panel down here on the left was a little bright, it was losing some of the detail. So we'll kind of talk about, sometimes I have to take two different raw processes, so I might process one for the artist and a second one for the actual artwork. That's another cool thing in Capture One, you can work in layers. So I'll show you how you can export one file that has multiple layers done in capture one where we're basically bracketing that exposure for different elements within the photo, but doing that all in Capture One so you only have to export one and you don't have to do that in Photoshop. So this is just kind of our hero shot. It shows the, this tells the story all in one. We know what Alicia does here, we see her artwork, we see her space, it gives us a good vibe, it's rather light and airy but there is still direction to the light. I'm not one that has a lot of angelically lit images in my portfolio, they all have some sort of shadow and shape to the light. So while it is light it looks like the window could be lighting it or overhead lights as well. There's still that element of shadow and depth there. And again, all these graphic elements bring it all together. The second image is basically the original shot I had in my head, which was the lower angle of her working. Again, you'll see I, as you know, she's still holding the blowtorch, it's still the same angle, everything about this was set up exactly how I wanted. You can get her in the right third, the window is still in there, you can see some of the shadows on the wall that are definitely happening from using that magnum reflector, but I don't mind because it kind of matches the shadow on her face. You'll also see as she moved back in forth, as you probably saw with the raws that were happening in the video, this line here, if she moved any further this way was going through her head, so it's waiting till that right moment when she's in this little space and there isn't those distracting elements. So we still have all the torches, we have foreground elements, her artwork leading that blue, it's almost like there's water at the base. And then I love little elements like this where we have the colors and tools on the walls and a lot of her personality elements that she keeps in her studio but again, from a lower frame, this would probably be a shot that the client, from this assignment, this self assigned assignment. This would be the shot that I kind of went in there thinking this would be the one that happened. I love the one previous to this with the overhead view. But this is the actual shot that once I got this one, then I knew we could kind of start playing and move and do something different. So again, it all came together here, this is what all the planning was for and then again letting her work in that space and move back and forth and run that torch until this happened. And without having eye contact, it kind of shows we're just in the moment with her creating her artwork. You can tell she has a look of concentration, steadiness, and I just kind of like how it all came together. Now when we move on to the more experimental stuff, kind of the bonus shots, this was all naturally lit, so you can see a shallower depth of field, the background is definitely a little out of focus. And this was shot with a 24 to but rather than at five-six, we were down at two-eight. This was in the video the moments where I had her holding the panel, she was scraping. I wanted her still to be doing something. And I'd say alright, look up at camera. So it was kind of like the process of her naturally looking up while she's working. So it wasn't so much that she was sitting there posed. She's still doing something, she just happened to be glancing at the camera. And again, the few time I asked her to smile, she wasn't really volunteering this big smile, so I just thought well I'm just gonna quit asking her and she's just giving me the expression she wants. So there's only so far you can push people. I'm not one to command alright, say cheese or any of that type of stuff. I want the expression to be authentic and I want her to be comfortable, so whatever she gives me I'll take it, I might make some suggestions to try and get some place, but if it's not going there I'm not gonna force the issue. I know a lot of people will tell me in a lot of pictures, I feel like a lot of people just don't instantly smile when they're working. It wouldn't be like she'd have this big grin on her face while she's scraping wax away. So it looks a little more natural. I'm sure when she looks at it it will, in her element it's what she's doing and to go back to the technical details, again, I was looking at all the frame. It's like we have these elements here I didn't want, this shelf coming out of the top of her head. I don't mind this, but you can see there's a little bit of space here. I take so many photos, and as I go when I'm looking at the screen tethered, it's like how can I tweak this just ever so slightly that she's framed up perfectly in this space. We have her, decorations up there. You still get a sense of what she does, we have the artwork. As far as the rule of thirds and things like that, her head is up in the upper area of this frame but we left enough space up there for any reason and it's a flattering photo and I love the fact that she has her apron covered in wax and you probably saw in the video you can hear this crunching as we walked around. The floor of that place was completely covered in wax. So that was interesting for the audio guys to deal with. But this is one of those shots again, I didn't plan on taking this shot, it was not on the original list but as I looked around the space, that window was just saying use me for some light. And especially on a cloudy day, so. Here we go, and this will be a shot that she'll probably like one of the most because it's really natural, has that nice depth of field that people like and it worked out pretty well. This is one of the shots, the next one, that didn't quite work out as well but I do want to show it. It's still interesting. I wasn't able, this was kind of done on the fly. There wasn't as much planning going into it. I don't love how this window bar is going right through her head. You probably notice in the video I had her move in. It's because this was leading right up to her face and this was going through her head. I wanted her to be more in front of the windows. You will notice I am perfectly square with these windows. That's what I wanted, I wanted that graphic element to it, whether you have a little bit of detail here, all the brushes in the foreground, so I don't hate the shot by any means. It's also one of the only ones where you can see the flame because it was in front of the black. But I don't love it, but it's okay. It worked out pretty well. This was lit with the magnum. Again, just adding some light on her from the side. I wish that the background, and I could do this later if I wanted to in post. I wish the background, you can see the baseball stadium back there. I wish it was almost all the way blown out, so that would be something where you could go in and edit out, some of that, make the windowlight come through whether it's in the raw processing or Photoshop and then she would really stand out. It's just one of those things. Is it worth all the work? I don't know, we have some other great shots. So where do you want to take it? And then lastly, what we have is the portrait. So this was kind of the shot that I was excited for to do at the end. The other stuff's great, but being able to prop it. So how this kind of transpired was when we went into the studio you saw in the initial video she had one of these pictures up there and I already knew that I wanted to put a blank panel in front behind her head to kind of frame her in. But I also didn't want it to be boring because I want to feature some of her work. So again, propping this out she had this little easel with one of her works. We put the torches in, this was all cardboard and she said well you know that's butcher block underneath there. Well that's obvious, then get rid of the cardboard and let's leave that. Having this purplish artwork up here, I wanted to put this one down here to kind of balance all of that. We didn't want everything perfectly straight because it looks just too contrived, but I do love this straight edge. But then having one there kind of throws it off a little bit. And then all this back here we placed with the torches, the brushes, all that was from the previous shot and we just kind of moved it over to kind of curate this little scene. And you'll see I left plenty of room above and below for this shot to kind of breathe so you have this space, you have the edge of the panels, I love how the shadow came in from the light. My light was that ProPhoto Magnum with the diffusion sock on it, just camera left. Even just cropping it right to this edge so you have a clean space after that torch. And I'm really picky with that type of stuff, that's what's happened over the course of my career of knowing when to slow down, look at the frame, she didn't have to go anywhere. So I don't feel, I used to feel this anxiety to have to be like okay I think we got the shot good enough and then I'd go home and it's like why did I hurry up, she didn't care. And then also this is that nice quiet moment I'm talking about. I gave her some direction as to where to look. I think this is when I told her to look towards the paper towels because what I'm doing is I know where the lights are, I know where her face is, I also had her move her chair. What you didn't see in the video, I had her move her chair about 10 different times to make sure her head was perfectly centered in this frame. So I was like, move an inch to the left. Okay, move a half an inch to the right. And as she sits and settled in she would move, so once we got to a point where I knew that the frame was square on, she was right in the middle of that panel. Then I could kind of figure out where to get this expression, and you see I had her look towards the windows, I had her look into the closet area, I had her look right at camera. But I'm just watching for eye contact because with those thick framed glasses, a lot of times if her head would go down too low, the frame of her glass, she might be able to see me, but I couldn't really see her eyes. And when her head was going more towards the light we were getting a little bit of glare. So this ended up kind of being the winning shot as far as all the technical stuff coming together and still having an authentic feel. She clearly looks like she's zoning out almost in thought. And it also tells the full story in one portrait of the entire space. You know what she does, you can see some of the tools of the trade, you can see some of the finished process, all the elements that make up her studio and it's a good portrait of her. So I did a number of these which we'll go through in the editing, but this was kind of the one shot that I felt really encompassed the entire deal as far as from a technical standpoint from me as what I thought was a flattering shot of her. And something that told the story. If we only had one frame and show people and say here's the story of Alicia, you can tell what she does all from this story, and it's just a shot that I like as an artist. So that's kind of how it all came together. And now we have a little bit of, we'll make a transition here to the moto shed garage which will be totally different but in the meantime, after seeing those videos, seeing a bit of the results, any questions at all from anybody? In the last two videos, it was more quiet than before. Do you ever put music if someone is not comfortable with quiet? Yeah, so that's a great question. That's how I normally work, I'm not normally this talkative, that's why I've gone through two things of water. And I usually just let people do their thing. A lot of times I'll ask them, I do keep one of those little Bluetooth speakers in my bag or in my car and I'll ask them, hey do you want to throw on any music? If there is music playing in the space we'll let that go. For this case because of the video and it being on Creative Live, you have to be a little selective of what can actually air. So that wasn't really an option. But many times we'll definitely have music playing. And I always ask people, do you want to listen to something? 'Cause it can get a little awkward with that silence. So I'll let that be determined by them. I usually don't care what we listen to, and if they do leave it up to me I do have opinions on that, but for the most part it's one of those things I definitely offer but it's totally up to them as far was what we want to listen to. But good question, 'cause it does break up some of that awkward silence. I was just gonna ask with regard to you turning in assignments and whatnot, how often is it that your favorite photo from the assignment matches up with what gets printed? Oh, like never. It's usually my favorite photo is kind of quirky and a little bit odd, and again, for an assignment usually they're not going for that. So a lot of time the photo they pick will be more like that first or second photo where it's more of the planned shot. It's a little more obvious, it's a little more planned out and fits the shot list. Where my favorite photo is something that happened along the way. And again, it might not be the best shot, my favorite one, it might be my favorite because I was also there. There's an emotional connection to that shot. There might be one of those shots where you know the amount of effort that went in to make this shot, and it's because it was the shot that was in your head, you really wanted to make it happen, and you're like yeah. And then everybody else looks and they're like, well that other shot's way better and you don't have that connection to that shot, you have it to the other one. So a lot of times my favorite won't be the favorite of the client or even many other people who view it. But that's okay, that's part of the art, so it worked out. Any other questions? Yes, we do have questions from online. So couple of questions from Pam and Amanda about white balance. And so they're saying you're combining the natural light with he artificial light and how do you handle that, how do you approach it? Okay, so one of the things, that's a great question because you saw we were mixing ambient with strobe. I get to a point where if I were to take the light trigger off on those shots and take that, it would be almost dark. So I'm shooting at 5500 Kelvin because my lights are generally overpowering any of the ambient light. That's why when I first go to a location, I look at, where's the ambient light coming from? I place my lights from that same direction and then overpower the ambient light. So it still looks natural, but I'm not having to deal with the ambient color temperature as much because I know with the ProPhoto it's gonna be and by placing my lights where I need it to look natural, I don't have to deal with combining white balances. Cool, thank you. And then finally, a question from Arnold who says is there any indicator if the environment is too cluttered and makes the photo too busy, you did talk through how you staged some of the settings. But do you walk into places and you're like, ah? Yeah that happens quite often and a lot of times then we might instead of going from this wider scene you might pick a little vignette or a little frame here or there that is less cluttered because I'm a little reluctant to ask people, hey can we completely clean up this space because that's there workspace. If it looks like mine, it might look like a mess but I know where everything is at. So a lot of times with these people it might be the same thing. And if you can't embrace that and if it's really distracting in the photo, a lot of times I'll just have to get rid of that wider shot or find a different location or even a different angle that gets rid of some of that clutter and makes the focus more on the subject. So there's always a way around it if you pull out your camera, really look through the viewfinder and figure it out. And worst case scenario you can ask them hey can we move some stuff? And a lot of people, they want the photo to look good too, so they're usually not too hesitant to helping you out or making the photo look better.

Ratings and Reviews

Julie V

I had the chance to sit in the audience for this class and absolutely loved it. Watching Dan create amazing images from start to finish in front of us was so inspiring. I've learned so much from this class. It actually gave me the confidence to start playing with lights in my studio. It was really useful to see how he sets his lights and how he can easily mix ambient light with artificial. I also love how he focuses on getting the image right in the camera to only do light edits after. I recommend this class to anyone wanting to learn more about lighting, shooting tethered and editing efficiently!

a Creativelive Student

I love this guy! I so appreciate his honesty while he is explaining his thought process, admitting that his “shoulda/coulda/woulda’s” - which I experience ALL the time. I am now going to dust off my light meter and start using it on location as I’m convinced that it works now that I’ve seen Dan’s class. I enjoyed the detailed way he sets up each light individually, checking to make sure it adds the amount and quality of light he wants. Definitely recommend this class - especially for those people who have experience using studio lights and want to see how they can be used to get specific results. Dan’s clear, simple explanations, his unabashed humility, and his sense of humor made this a truly enjoyable way to spend my time learning his methods.

a Creativelive Student

Dan is an excellent instructor! He's completely transparent with his thought processes, from technical to creative. He doesn't waste time horsing around or getting off topic, but is structured and sticks to his outline. Every minute watched is on topic, and is understandable. He's sincere and likable. The course is great for anyone interested in this genre!

Student Work